Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Minnie Mouse" and Momma Mouse....oops....Goldsmith

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12 Days!! And......lots happening here today.....

Oh yeah.......not too busy to take our 2 mile power walk this morning in the cool morning air......great exercise, and best of all.....NO knee problem!

Then after a quick shower......and I DO mean QUICK!!!! Prior to taking my shower, the 1st Lady was in the shower.....and the toilet and other drains began to GLUB, GLUB, GLUB.....very loudly!
Yep......it was that dreaded time once again.........the sewage line was getting plugged up, most likely by tree roots!!! I HATE things when this happens.....nothing worse than having a plugged up sewage pipe....especially when it decides to fertilize my yard just behind the house......UGH!!! We had an access to the sewer line put in out in the yard.....and so it does it's thing when it becomes plugged......it releases some wonderful by-products into the yard. Well, I stopped everything and called the plumber, who wasn't at home but I left a message pleading for "help" today!

Then I had my morning French Roast.....inside, for obvious reasons.....and began to prepare for the Orkin Man(men)......to come and install some more vents in our foundation, of which one will be a fan type that will come on automatically at certain temps/humidity underneath the house....and to lay some plastic sheeting under the house on the damp ground, plus do some spraying for bugs inside and out. A full afternoon.......and then: a large check to write....ugh, ugh!!

So....about noon, they arrived and began going down into the crawl space, which is accessed through our laundry room. The drilling and banging on the foundation began.....and for the next three-four hours they were in and out of the house doing "their Orkin thing" While they were there, the plumber arrived to do "his thing"........and before long, our neighbor to the south decided to join us to see what the hell was going on here in TheHowserHouse. Soooo, needless to say......it was a very busy and hectic afternoon here. We did decide to have a new sewer line installed to get rid of the tree roots problem which is the cause of the plugged pipes....and our plumber gave us a good price, so we hired him to get it done before spring.

And then.......it was after 4pm here.....BUT "5 o'clock somewhere".....and so I enjoyed a glass of dark red medicine while awaiting dinner which the 1st Lady was preparing. And then.......OH YEAH.....it is Halloween. We turned on the outside lights.......and waited......and waited....and we had a total of 8 kids come by. Of which........there were two sets of parents who were former band students of mine who brought their kids by for some goodies.

A call then came from an uncle of mine in Virginia......who gave me news that my cousin whom I wrote about.....is completely "unresponsive" and that her time is short. And so....this evening I have been making mental preparations for the trip over to the Washington DC area....Vienna, VA.

A busy day........a hectic day.......and an evening of reuniting with former students and THEIR families.............all goes to ensure that.....

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

13 DAYS!!! And....today was another gorgeous day......!!

Today......the 1st Lady and I were up and on the street for our two mile power walk and we had only gone about a quarter of a mile when.......DAMN!!!! My right knee began to shoot some stabbing pains at me.......and it seemed like it was just not working correctly. Now....how does a knee not work correctly??? I sure as hell do not know, but what I DO know is that I had to return to TheHowserHouse on Buford Heights....., but by the time I reached our stick and brick, my knee was OK!!!! Go figure........I have no idea what happened. And......all day long, today.....my knee has been perfectly fine.....THANK GOD!!! I do NOT have the extra $$$ to hire a camel to carry me around for 16 days while on our trip........God help my sore ass if that had to be done!!!

I spent time today doing some more work outside, getting our itinerary outlined so that I can email it to those family members and friends who might need to reach us in some emergency. And....that is taking more time than I anticipated....for some strange reason.

I made a quick trip to the local propane gas dealer to have one of my RV bottles filled......I like to keep them both filled in case I might need to hook up and head down the road at anytime. As usual.......the prices have risen since I last had a tank filled.....DAMN!!!!!

This evening......I watched the Democrat debate in Philly. And.......it was not necessary informative with any earth-shattering news, but there are more good candidates that just one. Have I picked one yet??? No.....I haven't, but the only thing I know is that after the past six years plus.........it will certainly not be a Republican of any kind. One of these days I am going to unlease some of my pent-up feelings about this damnable Administration in D.C.......and the many, many unconstitutional and illegal things that they have forced upon us.......but not tonight.

And with the hope that our weather will continue tomorrow........I will close this little uninformative post.......but as you know I will say:

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

14 DAYS!!! Simply BEAUTIFUL......a wonderful fall day!!

OMG.....what an incredible day.....even with the heavy frost we encountered this morning. Not thinking last night, I forgot to cover my Basil plants....and they are dead....no more fresh green leaves for my home made paninis. Oh well........the rest of this crisp fall day made up for that small loss.

The 1st Lady and I took our power walk this morning......our regular 2 miles in 31 minutes. At first my breath fogged up my glasses but the sun slipped through the red and yellow leaves that are still hanging on the trees and the air warmed up considerably after that.

Then I had my Fr Roast coffee while I read the online newspapers.....and by 10AM we were in the yard continuing to get it cleaned up. FINALLY.......the time has come to BURN, BURN, BURN our limbs, leaves, twigs, etc., etc. The city allows us to burn yard stuff between Oct 15 and Dec 15.....so I spent the next two hours being TheHowserHouse Fire Marshall and overseeing the task of disposing by fire of the many, many limbs and things that the storms brought into our yard. And now.......the corner of our yard is clean and bare of those piles of unsightly limbs!! YEAH!!!

After lunch and a bit more yard work, we decided to run down to Cape.....only 50 miles.....and get my prescription sunglasss ordered. And......sooo we did. We were back by a bit after 5pm.....and each of us working on our own little lappies with our own research on various subjects, as well as answering emails.

Don't know if I mentioned by we are going to meet a wonderful expat lady who has lived in Egypt for about 20 years. She wrote us first as she had read a post I made on the TravelBlogs.com about going to Egypt......and she asked if we needed any questions answered or any other assistance. Soooo, I wrote to her and we have been "email correspondents" for the past three-four weeks. Well.......she had recommended a great Egyptian restaurant in Cairo for us to have dinner at......and so I asked if she would join us for dinner one night while we are in Cairo. And......our schedules are in sync and so she accepted our invitation and then volunteered to pick us up in her car at the Ramses Hilton where we will staying in Cairo. It should be a fun evening having dinner with a resident of Egypt and being able to discuss what it is like to live there.

And sooooooo........another day of this year....and of my Life....has gone by in a flash. Honest to God......these days and time in general, just seem to fly by so damn quickly...WOW!!! And with time in such a hurry........I still feel very strongly that.....

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

15 DAYS!!! Where have the past few days gone?

Friday......I was here at the house as the 1st Lady was in Cape with our granddaughter, Rachel. The 1st Lady also picked up her new glasses and prescription sunglasses. A busy day for her......a more relaxed one for me. That evening I met her about 18 miles east of here......and we had a late dinner at a place called: Bonnie's Moo Cow......yep, not a typo....but the real name of a cafe that is attached to the area sale barn. At a junction of the two highways, Patton (junction) is a gathering of a few homes/businesses with the most popular being the Cafe.

The advice is always: Eat where the locals eat. Well.......all the locals, and many who are not local.....eat here...especially on Friday nights when they serve catfish and three sides for $8.99 for ALL YOU CAN EAT!! The 1st Lady and I had not eaten at this particular cafe for a year or two......as we have been eating our catfish in the F'town city center. But this time....we decided to go back and try out Bonnie's Moo Cow Cafe again. It was good......not great, but a good meal. The coating on the fried catfish was just a bit tooo salty. Did someone drop the salt box in the cornmeal???? Hmmmmm.......not sure about that, but it was toooo salty this past Friday night!

Saturday........we went to have an afternoon meal with Mike. It was a very pleasant meal......BBQ ribs and other goodies. We enjoyed our conversations with him.....and the discussions that ensued were both fun.....and thought-provoking. A very good visit!!!!
We returned home around 10pm.......and....before long I found myself in the horizontal position.

Today.......watched the morning "talking heads" shows on Sunday morning, drank my French Roast coffee, and then......it was time to get some work down. Spent SEVERAL hours working on the lawn.....mowing the grass, the leaves, and then raking, with the 1st Lady giving a lot of assistance with the rake and wheelbarrow.....and then: it was time to get TheHowserHouse on wheels winterized!!!! Yep......a HARD freeze is expected and predicted for tonight......soooo, a quick trip to the local Wally World to get some more "rv anti-freeze" for the water tubes etc., etc. It took a bit longer than expected......but it IS done. Now........for the next two months, I won't have to worry about freezing joints and water "pipes".

I have been very concerned about a very much loved cousin of mine who for the past two years and a half has been fighting liver cancer....and the spread of it to other parts of her body. They live in Vienna, VA.....and her husband three weeks suffered a heart attack from all of the stress. Hospice has been called in to their home.....and my cousin is under many meds to ease the pain as her last days begin to close down. I have visited her and her husband there in Vienna.....and at their winter home in Mesa, AZ. It has depressed me ..........depressed me a great deal......to know that such a wonderful, vibrant and energetic, fun-loving and extremely postive lady has been subjected to this horrendous cancer. My only hope is that she will not have to suffer much longer as there is no positive hope for her at this stage of the disease........... Unless we are our our journey to Egypt, I will be heading to Virginia when the dreaded time arrives.......

With that discussion, and with a very heavy heart and many, many memories of our wonderful, laughing times that we had together here in Missouri, in Virginia, and in Arizona.....I will close my post for tonight. It is difficult to end with my usual last line, but it IS still so true that for her and for all of us......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

STILL ALIVE.......

TONIGHT....yep, tonight there will be a new post!!!

And.....no word from the avid Lees Summit, MO reader........

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!.......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A BUSY time......more later!

Very busy with Life right now.......will update later. I do have a question for one of my readers:

To the person who has been doing sooooo much reading of my blog that uses Comquest and is from near Lee Summit, MO........do we know each other???? Just curious.......

Life is GREAT.....and I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

18 DAYS!!! An exhausting day...physically and mentally.......

I was on the road at 6AM this morning ........going down to the Bootheel of Missouri for a meeting that I needed to attend. Driving down to Cape on the newly remodeled Hwy 72, it was a real bitch in the dark with rain coming down with very few center lines painted with no lines on the edge of the highway with many, many semis meeting me as they roared around the corners, etc., etc. This will be a big improvement WHEN they have it finished......but NOW???? It is extremely dangerous to drive on in the dark with rain!!!! DAMN!!!
While it only lasted 30 minutes, it was mentally challenging and.......exhausting. Following the meeting I went and visited with Mike for a few hours.....and then drove back to Cape Girardeau. Stopped in at LensCrafters at the Mall and picked out some sunglasses to be made into my prescribed lenses. UGH!!! MUCHO more expensive than I had anticipated soooo, thought I had better run it by TheHowserHouse bookkeeper/auditor for her approval, so I just had them hold them until tomorrow. The 1st Lady has to go and pick up her glasses tomorrow in Cape......so I will have her finish the order.

Returned to F'town.....and immediately removed my suit and tie.......WOW!!!! I am just NOT used to wearing a suit and tie all day long........and my neck is about raw!!! And to think....I used to wear a tie every day of the week......how the Hell did I do that????????? Just not sure......but, perhaps it is my aging mind that seems to store away these little thoughts and items.....and for some reason it just bogs down, freezes up like my lappie, and then the information becomes lost and I just can't retrieve it.........hmmmm...........it is hell getting old(er).

I am really tired tonight.....can't think how long it has been since I got my tired, sagging ass out of bed at 5AM!!!!! Sooooo, this is short tonight....much like what is left of my Life............but, nevertheless:

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all you, also!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

19 Days!!!! A GREAT morning with an incredible friend!

WELL.....I got up earlier than usual this morning.....as I had a "date".....! Yep.....this old sagging hulk of a guy had to meet his former student/his associate (former) HS Band Director/ and a great friend.......for some morning coffee. Goldie and I TRY to get together at least once each month......but it never, never happens. We are both so busy with our own Lives....that it is very difficult...sometimes impossible.....to even find two hours where we can "gossip" and chat like two old hens. BUT....this morning we managed to do just that........drink some VERY strong coffee and sit and talk for two hours....without coming to a period. For a change, we met at the local coffee shop in the city center of F'town........and those two hours were waaaaayyyyyyyyy tooooo short to get everthing discussed and all our problems of Life resolved. Oh well.........maybe we can get back together before the 1st Lady and I leave the state for the Winter.

Returning to the stick/brick the 1st Lady and I began to gather together beside the truck the many items that we have been wanting to dispose of.......when the city-wide fall clean-up week arrived. And....THIS IS THE WEEK!!! So, we hauled a truck load to the city "dump".....as they were called decades ago when I was a kid(don't ask when!). But....it was GREAT to get rid of all of those things that we have been trying to hide behind the house..........we missed the spring cleanup time because we were still gone for the Winter......even though it was actually Spring.

Then this afternoon I began to take care of the winterizing of TheHowserHouse on wheels.....emptying the fresh water tank, running the gennie for an hour to keep it "fresh" and I also ran the a/c at the same time to put a load on the gennie, added a few drops of distilled water to the two Trojan-105 batteries, and some other little tasks.

Mowed a few leaves that were beginning to stack up on the patio.....the mulcher helps soooo damned much in getting rid of the leaves QUICKLY. And...that is the important thing.

Tomorrow I have to run down towards the bootheel of the state for a meeting....and then will stop in Cape G. on the return to order some prescription sunglasses with the progressive lenses in them. Need them before heading to the Egyptian Sahara and all of the tombs, temples, and Pyramids in 19 days....!!

This evening.......the 1st Lady prepared Beef Stroganoff fo dinner.......is that spelled correctly???? Not certain the "spellchecker" is familiar with that word....haha! Anway...this was a wonderful meal.......ummmmm.....soooooo damned good!

And so.....another day has come and gone. Fall is chilling down......tonight it is predicted to be down to 37 degrees........is winter arriving tooooo soon??? Who knows......quirky weather!!!
But.......who really cares because......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

20 Days to Go!!!!! And I sure as Hell hope they aren't all like today!!!

It has been just “one of those days” around here today!! And…by that I mean “one of those days” that I hope doesn’t reappear very soon……..damn!!!

It was raining when we woke up…..and so the 1st Lady remained in bed for a few more snooze counts…make that “wheezing” counts……and I got up and made my French Roast coffee and read a few newspapers online. When she did get up….it was make-the-bed-time….MY assigned task…..ALWAYS!!!

Around 10 I decided to make some phone calls as we have been having a problem with the Samsung Plasma…….in that every time the we turn the tellie off….and then when we turn it back on, we have to re-program all of the channels onto it…….the memory function doesn’t work! Soooo, with the HD channels now….somehow….appearing on my tellie for the local stations in STL which includes ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and the PBS….I decided to see about getting this small problem fixed.

I began by calling where we have an extended warranty for 60 months…..and after a prolonged conversation with a nice lady, she told me that the Samsung warranty was good for two years….we purchased it in Feb of 2006.….and so I would need to call Samsung. My first reaction……OMG….talking with someone in Japan or somewhere in that area and having to deal with the accents. However, when I did reach a human being…..it was here in the states….YEAH!!!!!! Explaining the problem to this young lady, she said that she needed our serial number, which we had managed to find and write down before we called: ANOTHER distinct problem as the plasma is hung IN the wall and even though I can access the cords/cables from the new cabinet on the other side of the wall(in the garage), the serial number had not been visible from there. Soooo, we hung a mirror down behind the tellie and beamed some light back there by a flashlight and we were able to retrieve the number. However, when I gave her the serial no., she said there wasn’t anything like that anywhere in their computers at Samsung……THE MAIN SERVICE CENTER!! OMG…..

Sooooo, she asked me to fax her the bill of sale/receipt and so I hung up and went into the den and faxed it to her. Calling back to Samsung an hour later, they had received it and told me that I would need to call this electronics repair shop….they gave me the name….in Cape Girardeau to set up an appointment……we HAVE in-our-house service on the warrantIES!! Sooooo, I called the people in Cape…..but no answer……just their screaming noise of a fax machine…theirs. After doing this several times, I called Samsung back and explained the problem……and they tried to obtain another number but were unsuccessful. So, I told Samsung I would fax the place in Cape and tell them to call ME.

OK…..during these 2-3 hours, I had been trying to get the plasma to program the channels….and soon it wouldn’t even do THAT….just saying on the screen that there was a “weak signal“ And THEN……the damned tellie went off completely with no picture, no audio….NADA!!! THEN I began to really panic……..called Samsung again and they said to unplug the electricity and wait about 5-10 minutes. Up to that time, I could not get the HD channels and the regular locals were all fuzzy and full of lines.

Soooo, I called Charter, our cable provider…..and they told me, “OH….you are getting HD since you are not signed up for it and you don’t have an HD receiver.” OOOKKKKK….what the hell? I had been getting HD since Sunday on five stations!!!! It said up in the corner “HD” and hell, you could just TELL……it looked like it was supposed to on the plasma. Up until last week, F’town did not have HD being sent down here by Charter, but they changed it in the middle of last week….and we began receiving it, IF signed up. HAHAHHA……but, I wasn’t signed up.

I explained again….and then decided to shut up about it. The guy did say that it might be “bleeding through”. Well……..

I did get the tellie back on……and when that happened, the missing HD channels were back on!!! Ok…….I just let it go….and cancelled my Charter service appt for Friday.
And so……all that needs to “be continued” is getting in touch with the service people in Cape!!!!

ALL of this had taken almost FIVE HOURS!!!!! DAMN!!!!!!

So, we fixed supper….and in middle of eating …..ALL of the electricity went off and we were plunged into darkness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Getting up to find candles, I checked the neighbors and there were only the other two houses next to ours and ours were in the dark. Soooo, thank God for cells….I called the emergency office and they said they would send someone up to us.

Well, it was almost an hour before they arrived……and we were beginning to get worried…..BIG TIME!!!! TONIGHT at 9pm is the finale of that incredible show on FX….”Damages”!!!! But……..after over an hour of working outside on the transformer that is across the street, we have lights!!!!

And then....I restarted my little lappie......and GUESS WHAT!!!????? It got almost finished rebooting.....and the damn dreaded BLUE SCREEN popped up on my poor little lappie!! WHAT NEXT????? But.......with some careful massaging, some tender little words whispered into the screen and keyboard, and a lot of love, I got it shut down, re-started it again.....and all seems to be working well........WOW.

OK…….it was “ONE OF THOSE DAYS”!!!!!!! Understand???????? Have you ever had “one of THOSE days”??????

And so……we watched “Damages”….and yes, it did resolve most of the complex interweaving plots and sub-plots…..but, is very obviously left some unsolved/unresolved for the next season, whenever that may be!!???

NOW….what will tomorrow bring??? Will I be able to resolve the service center in Cape not answering their phone???? Will they reply to my fax and call ME???? Hmmmm……stay tuned to see how this all plays out………… And…..as it was here today, no matter what the little problem or inconvenience…….

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!……And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

21 DAYS TO GO!!

Oh my..........there were two headbangers and each one climbed into either my head or the 1st Lady's head last night and continued pounding and banging with tremendous force until about noon today. We both just laid around....sipping tea or coffee......and not saying too much to each other. She had an appointment with our family doctor at 1:45 this afternoon....and, thankfully, we were both feeling a little better so she didn't cancel her appt.......because she was sick?? HAHA!

She actually had made the appt. for her yearly general check-up.....AND.....to have the Dr. write some scrips for anti-diarrhea meds to take with us to Egypt and Jordan. Everything we read about traveling in Egypt recommends that we take these with us.......things are a bit primitive over there in cleanliness as far as food and water standards. Oh yeah.......luxury does exist there, but.......for an example: the best stats that I have found is that the AVERAGE YEARLY income in Egypt is just a few coins over $1500.....and that is for the YEAR. I can only hope that that is wrong.....but that is the best info I have found!!

We are staying in 5 star hotels in Cairo and in Aswan.......we will be on the cruise ship in Luxor as we go up the Nile for 5 days and four nights. There is just simply not much of an economy in Egypt......and the prices are soooo low compared to things here in the states. Tourism is the #1 source of income for the country.....and, that is why security is so very tight there.......they MUST have the travelers and tourists! (and....so we are going... to fulfill my dream since the 6th grade social studies class)

We returned this afternoon after a brief stop at the SuperCenter in Farmington to pick up a few items we needed for the trip: SMALL bottles of the anti-bacteria hand cleaners that we can carry in our pockets. We are told that the Egyptians are sooooo friendly that they want to shake hands with American/tourists all of the time............and the water is not safe to use for washing hands, etc., etc. Ahhhhh........what an adventure this will be!!!! YEAH!!! Just takes lots of planning and thinking.......

Been watching the reports of the horrendous fires in southern California.........terrible!!! Called our friends Sue and Dave.....they are catastrophic insurance adjusters and have been put on stand-by to head out there for what could be a long period of time. A few years ago when this occurred, they were out there for one and a half years working on the claims from those fires. Soooo, think they are packed and ready to leave when the call comes to head west into the smoke!

And soooooo......the day is about finished. It is becoming cooler...and wetter.....as the REAL autumn begins to settle in to this area of Missouri. And......that is just great........which makes it even more certain that......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

22 DAYS To GO!!!

A beautiful day.....windy, very windy....but a wonderful autumn day here in southeast Missouri. This morning the 1st Lady and I took our power walk of 2 miles in 30 minutes.......and it was quite enjoyable at 7:30am.

After a couple of cups of hot, steaming French Roast coffee.......I began what turned out to be a lengthy process: trying to get our TIVO to downloading the program information. After 2-3 hours of attempting to connect with the correct phone numbers....and then after being "interrupted" each time it would begin to download......I sat through TWO 20-30 minutes of being "on hold" with the TIVO support teams. The first time I connected with them....and then I was cut off.....DAMN!!! And then, on the second "on hold" for 30 minutes, I reached a REAL human being. He then looked at my TIVO from his connection in his office......and told me the problem: downloading some new software which was a large download and the phones kept disconnecting me. Soooooo, again I started the process......and this time after 1.5 hours, it was completed!!! SUCCESS!!!!!

By late afternoon, the 1st Lady had a wonderful dinner prepared........and oh my, but was it ever incredible!!!!! Some type of pork cutlets smothered in a wonderful broth and covered with fresh sliced apples and then put into the oven. WOW.......really great!!!

Then.....I have been glued to the tellie tonight: three hours of Discovery Channel all about Egypt Queens and the discovery of their DNA's and their positive identification. A FANTASTIC three hours......with soooo many views of where we will find ourselves in 24 days!!!! Can't wait!! The title says 22, but that is the amount left before we head to STL where we will overnight close to the airport so we can catch our 6:55AM flight to NYC.....and we will be there for 8 hours prior to flying overnight to Cairo.....an eleven (11) hour flight!!! We will arrive in Cairo around 12:30....noon.....and after all of the processing with immigration, passport control, visas, meeting the representative from our tour company, and then getting through the Cairo Chaos of traffic to our hotel, the Ramses Hilton.......we will be exhausted, to say the least.

But.....there are still three more weeks here in the states......and as always, I know that each day we will find that:

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Busy two days......

Yesterday morning.....Friday.....we were up and on the road by 8:45 .......going to Cape Girardeau for the 1st Lady's optometrist appointment....to get new glasses. But first....we drove around a few minutes more to look at the wind/tornado damage in our area of town. Trees down, limbs down, trash everywhere on the streets......such a mess. We were just damn lucky....think our neighbor's house to the immediate south of us protected our homes, both stick and brick and on wheels, from the most serious winds.

Arriving in Cape around 10, the 1st Lady was in the eye check-up room for almost an hour....while I went down the mall to Barnes & Noble to get a cappuccino.....wonderful. The 1st Lady's eyes were dilated and so she couldn't see just yet to begin the arduous task of picking out frames, so we drove over to Applebee's for lunch: the pick two selections sounded the best and they were!!

Then back to the LensCrafters and she spent until almost 2pm picking out frames for her regular glasses and then for her prescription sunglasses. After she FINALLY made the selections, we headed south for a visit with Michael for a few hours. Then it was back to Cape and to our daughter-in-law's to spend the night.

Today....the 1st Lady and our granddaughter Rachel spent the morning together while I went to the parade downtown.....the Southeast Missouri State University Homecoming parade. Well......what a disappointment!!!! Only six or seven high school bands plus the SEMO Marching Band......and the best one was without a doubt, Cape Girardeau Central HS's band. No competition here.......and that is most likely why they have so few bands participating in the parade. F'town's high school band was in it.......and well, I believe that I will not speak about this to the world and cyberspace. I was very surprised at how few students were in the band.......perhaps the word should be shocked. Enough said......

When I returned to the house, the 1st Lady was back and we had a bit of shopping to do. It very quickly became evident that we were not going to be able to make the wedding in Farmington that we had planned to attend. Felt really bad, but it just couldn't be helped with the tight schedule we had today. DAMN!!!! We still had to go to Sam's Club.....and then we had to return to LensCrafters as my glasses needed some adjustments so that it they would stay on my nose in the correct spot for my eyes!

And....back on the road we went.....returning to F'town. And since then.......it has been hectic. Still not been able to get my Tivo to call and download the programs for the next two weeks........not certain how to get this done......seems like some internal problems between the phone connection and the machine or with the Tivo's mind!! Tomorrow.......

And so......another couple of damned busy days........ugh!!!!! But.........

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!.......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

WOW.....what a day of storms!!

STORMS, STORMS, STORMS…………and they began around 2:30am this morning. While it didn’t seem like more than some hard rain here at the house, I just found out that trees were uprooted in several places across town. Goldie…..my good friend…..lost an entire tree during the night to the winds……and then this evening about 4:30pm…..

Out of the clear blue sky, literally……..in just a few minutes it became cloudy and soon all Hell broke loose and the winds came roaring up the hill, the rains lashed against the stick and brick, and leaves went flashing by the windows. It was a terrible wind….I suppose what they call a “straight-line wind”…..and WOW…….was it awful. Lasted about 5-10 minutes and then the sun returned to close out the day.

I didn’t know anything had really happened until Goldie called around 8pm. Said there was no electricity in parts of F’town….and that there was tree damage all over the north side of town. We jumped in the car and drove around….and could see trees down, including just down the street about a block and one had been completely uprooted and laying in the yard. It was at least 100 year old tree…..a HUGE tree….but it did manage to miss the house that had been there as long, or longer, than the tree.

The cable, lights, phone, etc., etc remained on until about 7:30 and then the cable went off……right during SURVIVOR!!!!! SHIT!!!! And…..with the cable being out, our phones are out as we have the internet, phones, and cable all with Charter Cable. This may not turn out to be a good thing…..we just changed last week on a “special package deal”……may not be “special” at all if this continues!!!!

Today…..I woke up with a headache…..and a small ache in a rear tooth…..NOT a good sign…as Dr. Jeni is out of state for a few days. So, took some Excedrin….and laid around awhile this morning. Later in the morning I felt better and began to pick up limbs and sticks from last night’s storm……..FOUR WHEEL BARROWS full of sticks, plus the limbs that I had to drag across the yard to my burn pile. Now… TOMORROW…I can begin all over again!!!!! This is NOT fun!!!

This afternoon…….I climbed up on top of TheHowserHouse(on wheels) and spent almost an hour installing some new vent covers on the room. This will allow me to keep the vents open while traveling down the highway and not worry about rain, wind, etc., etc. Should have done this three years ago……but just never got around to buying them.

SURE glad I closed up the slides before the storm hit about an hour after I finished the above task…….they might have really been damaged with the winds. TV said that upwards of 70mph winds ripped through Madison County…..our county.

And soooo, don’t know when I will get this posted. INTERNET….where are you???? Tomorrow we are going to Cape Girardeau for the 1st Lady to get some new glasses….sure as hell hope she doesn’t have all the problems that I had!!!! Then we will go see Michael and return to Cape and overnight their with our daughter-in-law….and Rachel. Will return home late Saturday morning…..if not before.

And sooooo…..even with the storms ripping through F’town……

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!…..And, I hope it is for all of you, also

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Only 26 DAYS to go!!!!

Hmmmm……another dreary…and very rainy…day!!! I won’t complain…..we need the rain…..we need quite a bit more rain. With the clouds hanging low, the humidity very high, the 1st Lady and I quickly dressed and hit the street for our 2 mile power walk. And……we had to cut it short as the drops of rain began to fall……..on us.

A leisurely breakfast with her tea and my French Roast coffee was very satisfying…..and with the weather not being conducive for outdoor work……I found myself surfing the net…..and where did I land???? IN EGYPT!!!

So after spending a bit of time online, I went and picked up my Lonely Planet guidebook on Egypt….and continued to read it from where I left it a few weeks ago. And…..my God….before I knew it the afternoon was fading away. I was sooooo damned immersed within the covers of the book that my mind had visualized the 1st Lady and I on camels, walking around the Pyramids, on the cruise ship, trying to cross the horrendously busy streets in Cairo, etc., etc., etc. All of the tips and instructions and discussions that I was reading about………..that is where I spent the day!!

And so…..tonight my mind is still in Northeast Africa…….wandering around Egypt. ONLY 26 days until we leave…….YEAH!!!!! LOTS to do……..lots more planning for the trip…..and, of course, mucho more reading to do. I DO want to be prepared for this trip….and being in Egypt is certainly NOT like being in Europe. Very different customs, religion, dress “codes”, food, but from everything I have read, some very wonderful warm people who want to get to know the travelers in their country of which they are sooo very, very proud! Can’t wait…..

Without a doubt……

LIFE IS GREAT……And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Day......and an Amended Chapter 6:

Today???? The 1st Lady and I began our day…..not at the early hour that others begin their day……by hitting our street and walking our 32 minute power walk of right at 2 miles. I hadn’t taken this walk for several weeks and, actually and honestly, it felt DAMN GOOD!!!! Yep……once you get into the habit of walking, exercising, etc……it always feels good to do it again, after 2-3 weeks of abstaining from it.

Then…..it was time for my French Roast coffee…..and checking/reading the newspapers that I read daily online. Then….where the hell did the morning go??? It was soon 1pm….and the 1st Lady and I left for the Madison County Health Center…for what??? Well, it is time that we get down to business……and get our Hep A shot. The 1st Lady is really paranoid about getting shots…..and in fact, she came damned close to passing out this afternoon with that tiny, little prick of the needle into her upper arm. She DID pass out……when we had to have blood tests prior to getting married……hahaha!! Wasn’t sure at the time if it was the needle or the thought that we were getting that close to the marriage day!!!! Still not sure……???

Afterwards….it was a quick trip to Walmart….and $51 worth of….???? Not sure what caused that total because it seemed like all we got were a few veggies for salads, etc., etc. Then it was off to the local Farm and Home store……..looking for something….ANYTHING….that will assist us in getting the roots and underground stump of our Crab Apple tree to DIE…..DIE…..DIE!!!!!!!! We are constantly mowing, plucking, cutting, whacking…….those new little crab apple tree shoots that have began to spring up all over the back yard!!! The other day I mowed down 53 of them……53 of them !!!!!! Soooo, we bought some powerful liquid stuff…and hope THIS will do the job. We had the original tree cut down last year, but his year has been the year of the Attack of the Crab Apple Shoots!!!! UGH!!!!!…..and more curse words!!!!!

Then…..the 1st Lady needed to watch the Tivo’d episodes…the last two weeks….of Damages on FX. Tonight it the next to the last episode….and she HAD to see these…..they were really intense!!!! Soooo, it was 5 o’clock somewhere, and I had a bit of my dark red medicine as I spent over an hour reading the most interesting blog. Written by this ex-pat who has been living in Egypt for more than the past 20 years…..and her writings for the year 2004 was soooooo interesting and informative!!!!! I was simply unaware of what was happening around me as I read her posts for that year………sooooo much insight into the politics of Egypt at that time,……her personal loss of her husband in a plane crash…….all of this was simply fascinating to read. WOW……..I am still thinking about everything that she wrote….and she writes
sooooooo well!!!!!! I was, and am, soooo pulled into her blog….she can make you feel as if you are sitting there in the same room as she tells her “story”……WOW!!! If you are interested in looking at this blog….and she has two others, also……go to:

http://miloflamingo.blogspot.com (Living in Egypt)

The year that I was reading today was 2004.….and begin from the bottom of the webpage that the above address brings to you.

Ok…..the 1st Lady pulled a quick 35 minute dinner tonight (copying Rachel Ray???)) and it was quite…actually, VERY…good! Pasta with a tomato sauce, a wonderful mixed greens salad, and I fixed the garlic/parmesan cheese bread under the broiler. This was accompanied with her chilled Riesling wine and my dark red medicine……WOW…..soooo good.

OK……in reading my post last night, I realize that it was almost ALL about …….me(uttered rather humbly now). I apologize for that…..as sooo much was about things that happened to me. And yet……there was soooo much that happened as my family became older and began to have their own experiences…….soooo:

Chapter 6...Amended!: As my job of band director became more and more and more involved with rehearsals, travel, competitions, and more and then, even more…rehearsals. Have you ever heard the phrase: You create a monster….and then the monster consumes you. And….yep, it was consuming me …..and waaaaayyyyy toooo much.

Dr. Jeni became quite the young lady, Jeremy grew into a wonderful, loving little guy, and Michael found his niche and became very successful in his music activities and competitions during his four years in high school. Michael graduated from high school in 1986.….and made the decision to major in Music Education. He had received top ratings in the Missouri State Music Festivals each of the four years he participated…..and, so it did not surprise me when he decided to teach. He received many scholarships which allowed him to attend his first year at Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, MO for little or nothing…….WOW…..that sure helped our checkbook!! This university is now called Truman State University.

The 1st Lady, who did not have a position the first year we spent in Eldon…..began working/teaching at Lincoln University in the Dept of Agriculture…..working on Federal Grants. She traveled over the state “plucking hair” from senior citizens as she did research on trace metals in the human body, and she was concentrating on the hairs of the body. She did really, really well in her research and after writing a huge paper on the results of this research was invited to South Africa to present her paper at an international conference. She turned them down, reluctantly…..but it just wasn’t in our budget in those days for a trip of this magnitude……and no expenses would have been paid for her.
A few years later….I believe it was five years…..she took a position as a Science Teacher in the Eldon High School…..and she enjoyed it tremendously.

Soooo, in 1987 I began with NY Life……and after about 6-8 months, I realized that I really did NOT like, nor enjoy, this particular job. Hmmmmm…….I wallowed in my thoughts about the decisions that I had made…..and by late spring of 1988, I decided to get another teaching position……wherever. The dollars on the NY job were very, very good, however……I was very unhappy….and money is not the only thing in Life.

By mid-April I was receiving calls to “come see us for an interview” from several schools across the state…….and the school that had the most potential for band improvement and growth of the program, along with what appeared to be wonderful community support……well, that school was Fredericktown. And so……..with Dr. Jeni in tears each day…..we began our project of moving across the state…..to an area of the state I had oftentimes stated I would “not want to live’ there. Hmmmmm………what a misunderstanding that was!!!

And so, by August 1st of 1988, we had found a HUGE old house to rent in F’town….and had our house in Eldon on the market……….and moved to F’town on the hottest day of the year: 107 degrees that day!

To be continued……in Chapter 7!!

LIFE IS GREAT….And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hmmm.....a rather dreary day, but mucho do to....

Yep......a rather strange cloudy-type day here in SE Missouri. Remained cloudy, but in the low 70's all day.....with the threats of rain. Well.....the rains we need so badly, once again, barely materialized this evening. Just a bit of rain.......not much, at least NOT enough. Oh well.......all my flowers are either dead or close to it.....gave up long ago on watering them.

The 1st Lady is visiting Dr. Jeni .....went last night and will return this evening......as she had a dental appointment with Dr. Jeni. Sooooo, today was rather dreary.....even though I did have a "to do list" that I did get accomplished during the day.

BUT..... most of the day was spent in copying pictures from the computer onto CD's for a more permanent place of storage. Well, this led me to another site on the web which I have been reading and researching for awhile......and so, I set up an account with them for storage and public viewing of my pictures........beginning with Saturday's pics of our visit to Vance Vineyards. However, the main purpose is so that I can post the pictures we will be taking of our trip to Egypt and Jordan next month.........I just needed more storage room and the capability of getting this pics out to all my friends and relatives. I set up the account with Flickr(http://www.flickr.com).....and some of you may be using that picture storage site. I think it will be what I need.......sure hope so!!

Soooo, that is basically the day here on Buford Heights at the stick and brick. I will be adding a new chapter to the summary of my Life's various chapters.......and sooooo:

Chapter 6:

At the end of the school year….spring of 1978...after teaching for four years in the Eldon Middle School… AND…..assisting the high school band/choir director(who was MY high school music teacher)……she retired, totally unexpected and not announced until she had left the community for the summer. I spent that summer teaching summer band……a six week program that was sponsored not by the school district but by the local music booster group. I should have known that something strange was happening because, in sharing her office for the summer band, I realized that ALL of her files, her memoirs, her office decorations had been removed and were gone.

So, in mid-June I was called to the Supt’s office and offered her position beginning in the fall. I was excited….and I knew that at sometime she would retire…..but it did come as quite a surprise. And sooooo, I spent most of the summer preparing for a change in my class schedule…..and a change in my Life……however, I did NOT have any idea how much of a change it would make.

Late summer began and it was soon all up to me! And……..the year was a busy one as I learned the ropes, kept some of the traditions alive and going……and made plans to make my own philosophies and ideas for the high school band and choir long-range program. And……even with the changes I implemented…..they worked and became successful, even though there was a certain element that did not want ANY traditions of the music program to be changed or deleted.

The band program began to GROW……very quickly. My hs teacher had begun to concentrate more heavily with the choral program as she began to feel her age and band always takes more time AND energy(some will debate that statement). Soooo, I sat about to increase the band membership and build for the future for the band…..taking it in a new direction to make it more visible and to represent the community across the state…..and eventually across the country.

In two years…..I was able to convince the administration that we needed a choral/vocal teacher AND an instrumental/band teacher……and so, I was able to concentrate on the instrumental program! Soon……..both programs were growing in numbers and the quality of the performances was climbing higher and higher.

In 1980.…..we had new band uniforms…..AND…..the band took their very first out-of-state trip to perform. We went to the Rapid City, SD Festival of Bands and were gone for a week, performing in the huge parade….and we were selected to give a marching show exhibition in the convention center there. WOW……what an exciting trip!! We toured the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, etc., etc……and the kids on the trip experienced such new sights and events that many of them are still talking about that trip today.

Time went by…my family was recovering from the dark valley that I discussed last month…..and the children were growing and having wonderful experiences. We continued to travel in our camper……across the country to the mountains in the west to the beaches of the Southeast area of the US. In 1980 I took my first group to Europe for about three weeks on a performing Missouri Choir Tour……and my eyes were opened so wide at the wonderful places in Europe that I have never been able to completely shut them!!! WOW……..why had I waited sooooo damn long to go to Europe????!!!!

More trips for the band: 1982 we were in Florida to perform at a national concert band festival, as well as go to Disney World and a day at Daytona Beach for the kids. We also were one of the six bands in the state of Missouri to be invited to march in the Governor’s Inaugural Parade in Jefferson City in JANUARY!!! Yep……sooooo cold that our horns froze up after the 1st block of the parade……the wind chill at -20 degrees!!!! Then in 1984 the band was again invited to Rapid City……and this time our Jazz Band was asked to give a concert at the Festival!!

In 1981.….the 1st Lady and my oldest son, Mike and I went to Europe on our own for six weeks!!! The only reservations we had were the plane tickets…..and our Eurail Pass which allowed us to travel across Europe over and again…….unlimited mileage on the trains and the pass was good for six weeks! OMG…….what an incredible trip!!! Such experiences for all of us as there were soooo many things that had to be dealt with that today one doesn’t have to be concerned about. Upon returning I made a pledge to myself and family……that each of the other two children would go to Europe with me before they graduated from high school…….and, I did just that for both of them!!!!

By the mid-80’s, the band program was growing and growing. And……I realized that we definitely needed an asst. band director. However………I did not get the support from the administration to make this request a reality……..and things began to go a bit downhill as the parental support and the community support was there, but there became an on-going problem(s) with the administration and my plans for the band program. Sooooo, in the spring of 1987 I submitted my resignation, having been offered a position in Financial Services with New York Life Insurance Company. This made the headlines of the local newspaper….the very one that my great-grandfather started and remained in my family until the 1950’s.

The band parents and music booster group attended the Board of Education in mass…..and were met by a board that had already made up their mind that no asst. would be hired and that these parents were just wasting their meeting time. Not said in so many words, but the implications were there……and quite noticed. And sooooo………another chapter of my Life began to draw to a close. The nine years in the high school program had made for a longer chapter in my Life……a very successful chapter…..and a time of my Life which I needed in order to recover from the darkness of our daughter’s untimely and very strange death at the age of eight in 1974.

Hmmmm……..the end of Chapter Six was visible to me, even at that point in time. A new vocation, a new lifestyle, and one that I wasn’t exactly sure about……however, it was then…..and as it is now…..

LIFE IS GREAT…….And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Owner Robin Vance welcoming our group to the winery!

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Our table at the winery


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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Andrew and Laura Gipson enjoying their wine

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Scenes of the Vance Vineyards patio


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Pat Schwent and the SAXY JAZZ


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Enjoying the bar area of the winery

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Sue giving crepe making lessons to Andrew



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Laura at work filling the crepes

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Party at Vance Vineyards!!! GREAT DAY!!!

The morning came......and the clouds began to drift in as we did a few things around the house. The 1st Lady fixed a few items to take in a "picnic basket" to Vance Vineyards this afternoon......and before we knew it, our guests arrived from the Edwardsville, IL area: Laura and Andrew Gipson. Andrew had been a student of mine, my drum major his last two years in HS, and over the years he became a really, really wonderful friend. Sooooo, it was great to have them here to enjoy the afternoon at the winery here in F'town.

We picked up the Hanner's and drove around the corner from their home to the newly opened Vance Vineyards.........a really lovely place!!! Today's "special" was the group of musicians who were to perform: "SAXY JAZZ"..........the group being run by a former band director from Jackson, MO and a good friend of mine: Pat Schwent. Well.........their performance brought out a lot of people from around the area and of which, were friends and former students of mine.

They wine, the great snacks, the wonderful friends, and the fantastic music all made the afternoon slip by sooooo quickly.........it was a really splendid afternoon!!!!!! Can't think when we have had such a fun time........and I HIGHLY recommend Vance Vineyards to any and all of you if you are, or will be, in the Fredericktown area. (I'm not an employee of the Vineyards...haha)

By 6:30, we left and went to the Hanner Home where we had some coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream......and then a bit later, Chef Sue put together a light Italian supper with pasta and her own tomato sauce, along with Garlic Bread......and some more wine. Later, before we departed we assisted her in making some French Crepes......which we filled with Nutella chocolate and topped with her wonderful homemade whipped cream. YUM...YUM!!!!!! You can never leave the Hanner Home without having gained 5 pounds!!!!!!!! She is such a wonderful gourmet cook and does it sooooo easily!!!!

And so, with Andrew and Laura remaining overnight with us, we sat and visited upon arriving back at our stick and brick for a couple of hours. With each one of them being a band director, we never have the time to coordinate our schedules to find a free moment or two to get together and visit........sad, but so true. Soooo, it has be delightful to have the afternoon and evening with them to catch up on each other's lives!!!!!! GREAT HAVING YOU TWO WITH US!!!!!

And sooooo, another great day has come and gone. My compliments to Robin Vance and his new winery.......it is a wonderful addition to our community!!!!! How lucky Fredericktown is to have such a splendid new business here!!

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hmmmmm..........a day of nothing happening!

Managed to sleep until 8 this morning........it is sooooo quiet in our remodeled bedroom......been in it for almost a year...and still find it so relaxing and quiet...GREAT!!!

French Roast coffee this morning inside......it was just a bit chilly out on the patio......can't believe I am saying that!! Watched a bit of tellie.......learning that Al Gore had received the Nobel Peace Prize.......GREAT!!!

The morning slipped by quickly as I spent quite a bit of time cleaning the house, using the dirt sucking machine which makes sooooo much bothersome noise, cleaned the bathrooms, and just did some general straightening up.

During the afternoon I spent several hours on some blogs that were written in the past week FROM travelers who are now in Egypt. I've learned so much about how to get around and how to barter with the shop keepers. I have bartered many times before, but it appears that the Egyptians drive a hard bargain, so it should be great fun!!

This evening the 1st Lady returned from her visit with her mother.....and she seems a bit worn out. Think she did a lot of "running" for her mother.........doing some errands for her, etc., etc.

Not toooo wordy this evening.........just have been immersed in the travel blogs and been making notes for use while over there. Soooooo, with the weeks until we leave now passing quickly......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

5 Weeks from tomorrow, THIS will be me on the camel viewing the wonders of Egypt!

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Brilliant.....but, Lazy....just right for doing NOTHING

Oh yeah.....I am certain many of you are wondering just why the hell I didn't write a few words last night. Ok.......I should have, but.......I had not really done anything noteworthy or of interest to anyone......and I didn't have the mental alertness to write a new chapter of my Life, soooooo......I just turned off the little lappie and enjoyed the quietness of TheHowserHouse and spent the evening reading a novel. Excuse??? Ok........think it was just that exactly!

Oh..... Last night I did catch up on the latest episode of "Damages" on the FX channel. WOW........it is ever, ever becoming INTENSE!!!!!! There are only two more weeks of this unusual drama and I have become sooooo engrossed in it that I will certainly dislike seeing it stop! UGH!!!

Today.......AHHHHH, a brilliantly bright and crisp autumn day......JUST THE KIND I HAVE BEEN LONGING FOR!!!!! In the upper 40's when I headed for the patio with my cup of Fr. Roast in hand.........and then....oops......I made a u-turn and headed back to my closet to retrieve some jeans and put away my shorts.....for today!!! Yep......it was just a bit toooo chilly and crisp to sit on the patio, under my new yellow patio umbrella and sip coffee, no matter just how hot and steamy it was. BUT......I am NOT complaining......I just LOVE these fall days........why???? Well, the humidity is gone and the clear and bright days, along with the cool temps, remind me soooo damn much of the place I love the most: the same of days that you find in the higher altitudes of the Big Horns of Wyoming. What was missing today???? The cold and clear streams which are the home of the various Wyoming trout that are always just waiting for this old sagging hulk of a man to drop a fly into.........or, like two years ago, drop MYSELF into the stream!!!!(See the archives for June/July, 2005)

Soooo, what did I do today???? NOTHING!!!!! Oh well, I did do a bit of straightening up inside the house: folding towels, socks, removing the trash to the outside trash receptacle, and..........READING!!!!! Oh yeah.....it was soooooo damn quiet here and outside that I found myself reading on the patio, sipping coffee, and just plain relaxing with that grand and glorious feeling of not having anything pressing to complete. WOW.......THAT is retirement!!!!! Did I feel guilty???? HELL NO!!!!! The 1st Lady is still visiting her mother in northeast Missouri and with no REAL tasks to finish, this day belonged to......just ME!!!!

And now......even with the new glasses, my eyes are hanging out on my cheeks from the hours of enjoyment of being inside those 452 pages where I spent most of the day, and also in my mind.....where I visualized the events of the novel. And....this evening, I began to put more effort into the research of Egyptian history and of the places and monuments and temples and tombs and museums and open markets and "touts"(I'll explain upon returning) and the excitement of being in a totally different kind of world than where I spent today. I am getting SOOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!

I spent a few hours this evening reading the ongoing blogs on a website I stumbled across a few months ago when we decided to make the journey to Egypt and Jordan, with the 5 day cruise up the Nile River. For anyone who is a traveler.....and not a tourist......there are a couple of wonderful websites that I would strongly recommend for you to check out online.....and dig into them. It does take a bit of getting to know what they have to offer, but when you do get "into" them, you will just learn soooooo damn much about the place(s) you are planning to travel to, no matter if it is to another country, or to someplace here in the US:
1. www.travelblog.org
2. www.virtualtourist.com

I can't give enough praise, AND THANKS, for these two websites. Again......don't just jump onto the website and sit there reading the opening page.............DIG and DIVE into them and DISCOVER all they have to offer. They are both written by the travelers who have been there, or, are NOW there and are posting to their travel blogs. The pictures are absolutely enthralling and .......you will soon be checking your bank account and making your flight reservations for another country/place or, heading down the road if it is here on our continent. The wonderful thing is the personal recommendations or warnings about each place.........not just a tourist bureau or chamber of commerce trying to get you to visit their town/country, but actual, real human travelers with wonderful comments and personal opinions.

For those of you who have expressed dismay that we are traveling to Egypt and Jordan., by exploring these websites...you will soon see just how many people......thousands of people.....are now, TODAY, visiting and traveling in Egypt and Jordan and having a wonderful time without any problems. If you/we allow our fearful Administration in Washington to keep us hiding under our beds in a cold and teeth-chattering fear of "foreigners" and/or immigrants and their own fantastic and splendid countries, we will be losing a very important aspect of our Lives..........the opportunities to experience and to learn about the peoples and different cultures of this world. After all............LIFE IS TOOOOO DAMN SHORT TO STAY IN ONE PLACE!!!!!

And so.........it was a wonderful fall day......and no matter what has occurred......as always,

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy 41st!!! Celebrating with mussels and wine......

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Dinner under the stars.......

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GOOD-BYE SUMMER!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!

WHAT a beautiful morning....and day....and evening!!!!! At long last, I do believe that summer has given up it's relentless grip and, hopefully, autumn has arrived to honor us with the wonderful weather that I love!!! And......today was just fantastic!!!!

With the 1st Lady being gone........I had my French Roast coffee on the patio.....enjoying the newly "won" Yellow Tail yellow patio umbrella which the 1st Lady won in a drawing 10 days ago at the Cedar Creek RV Owners Club regional rally. It was difficult to leave such a peaceful scene, but I needed to go pick up our two weeks worth of mail that accumulated while we were gone, pay some bills, mail a couple of things, get all 69 of the hairs on my head shortened, and have the headlight in the truck replaced. All of this became a formidable task as I sat in the brilliant sunshine on the patio making plans to get all of this accomplished.

However......as usual, the list was not nearly as time consuming as I had imagined....and before long I was in Farmington, my 69 hairs were shorter, and the truck's light was replaced and I was soon on my way back to F'town. Returning to TheHowserHouse stick/brick, I fixed a quick and very light bite of lunch.....and soon the phone was ringing with an invitation to have dinner at the Hanner Home.........the occasion? It is their 41st anniversary.....and so, of course, I accepted.

The afternoon was spent just enjoying Life......and catching up on a Tivo'd episode of "Damages" that I had missed last week. WOW........and what an episode. Sometimes they go 2-3 weeks without anything really interesting occurring, but not this time.....OMG!!! It was sooooooo good!!!

Before long, it was almost time to journey out to the Hanner Home......and so, I grabbed a bottle of dark red medicine and drove the long 1.5 miles to their place on a hill overlooking the F'town valley.

Dinner????? Well, what do you think???? Of course, with the lady of the Hanner Home (Chef Sue) doing the cooking, it was a wonderful experience of flavorful aromas and tastes!!!! With the vino we enjoyed a pot of very delicate and tasty mussels cooked in a great broth.......and it was OH SO GOOD!!!!! The main course was a seafood "pie", or perhaps "stew", cooked and bubbling in a pastry shell........and another WOW for this wonderful dish! The salad, which prepared by Chef Sue, was AS ALWAYS a savory experience that leaves you always wanting more and more.....and more.

The meal was served on their deck overlooking the western hills and forested lands......and with the sun setting just as dinner was brought to the table, it was a very relaxing and quite pleasant ambience for their anniversary. I find it really interesting that no matter what Chef Sue prepares, she does it with such little effort.........and that is such an admirable trait that I would certainly like to emulate.

Dessert and coffee were served inside as the night very quickly became a bit on the chilly side. And......the dessert, as with the dinner, was outstanding. A type of chocolate and almond filled pastry, resembling a croissant, with whipped cream on the top and drizzled with warm chocolate.........YUMMY!!!! AHHHHHH...........the tasty talents of the Chef!!!!!!

Back home by 10........the evening, as well as the day, has swiftly disappeared. And sooooo, with another pound added to the vastly accumulating poundage of my sagging, aging hulk, I find myself asking the question: Will tomorrow bring "MORE FOOD"????????? However.........I can't deny that even with this added weight........

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Yep.......I'm back at the stick and brick!

Yesterday the 1st Lady and I returned from our two week journey through southwest Missouri and up to the Lake of the Ozarks. By the time we unloaded TheHowserHouse...on wheels....we were completely exhausted!!! WHY??? Not sure......however, we really did keep busy for the almost two weeks that we were out and about. Then.....the road home was not the best for a relaxing drive with the 38 foot house on wheels behind us.......it is two lane most of the way and without the safety of a shoulder to pull of on, should there have been a need to do so.

Today.....we were not up and about very early. There were many items to take care of in the game of catch-up........and soooooo, I am a bit late at getting this posted. Nothing of any real news occurred today.......but, I just kept busy cleaning out the RV.......carpets, shower and bathroom, sinks, mirrors, etc, etc., etc. I always like to clean right after we return from a trip so that TheHowserHouse is always ready to go........and, at this point in time, IT IS!!!!

The 1st Lady headed north today to spend the week with her mother. There are always things that need to be taken care of ........her mother counts on the 1st Lady to assist her with these small tasks.

Me????? Well....I do have some things to get done this week, but then......with the cooler weather...hopefully....that is to arrive in the next day or so.....I am looking forward to just enjoying the patio!!!

And sooooo, another day....errr....two days.....have passed in my Life.......and as always...

Life IS Great!!!!....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scenes from our trip to Roaring River State Park



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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Parents and Grandparents

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GREAT TIMES at The Potted Steer, Osage Beach, MO

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OMG!!!!! MORE FOOD!!!!!!!

Another wonderful day here at Lake of the Ozarks, with TheHowserHouse sitting on the bank of the Osage River....about a mile down from Bagnell Dam which has dammed up the Osage River and at one time......it was the largest man-made lake anywhere!!! But......progress goes on and even though the Lake is huge, it is not the biggest any more. It DOES have over 1300 miles of shoreline......more shoreline than the length of the entire west coast of the USA!!!

Interesting to me.......until the Bagnell Dam was constructed, my grandfather operated the ferry that took travelers across the Osage River....the ONLY way to cross it here in central Missouri. He showed me the exact spot where the ferry left the bank of the river and crossed it to the other side to join the "highway"/road.

Today.........after another leisurely morning with our morning drinks ......Fr. Roast coffee and her tea.......we left and went to Eldon. Taking flowers with us, we went to the cemetery and put the flowers on Michele's grave and on my parent's graves. Doing a bit of cleaning to the stones, we then headed to lunch at the Philadelphia Steak House.......ummmmm...good!!!! Since we have eaten there several times, we couldn't leave without eating there again......the absolutely best Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches this side of PA!!!!!! IF.....IF you are ever in Eldon during lunch time you MUST seek out this place on business 54 and have one of the giant sandwiches!!!!!! And......CHEAP!!! Sooooooo good!!!!!

Then we stopped at the local Amish market and purchased some apples.......did some looking at the many other Amish breads, herb packages, flours, cheeses, etc., ,etc., etc. We did buy some butter and I am really anxious to try it out!

Back to the Lake.....12 miles away......and then we went out to look at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park........the campgrounds there. Well...........it is a very old park and the sites are just not made for LARGE rigs such as TheHowserHouse, sooooo......I don't believe we can ever camp there without damaging the RV with the many trees there.

Then......it was back to the Outlet Mall for a couple of hours with more purchases than I anticipated!!! Yep........our restraint and self-discipline went out the window.....and the packages went into the truck.....$$$$$$$$$$$$.......UGH!!!!!

Back to the Riverview RV Park......and then after an hour of relaxing......we met my sister and significant other( of many, many years) at the Potted Steer. This restaurant I believe I wrote about in April when we went down there for appetizers and drinks. Well..........needless to say.....I am like an over-stuffed rag hulk........and bursting at the seams!!!

Going to the lounge/bar for a little while to wait on our table, the bartender gave me my regular....Dark Red Medicine......and I struck up a conversation with him. OMG......OMG......he is the son of a former student of mine in Eldon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And......he is not just 21 years of age.....but a few years older than that!!!! SHIT.......I am getting TOOOOOO DAMNED OLD!!!!!!
My sister and David arrived and we had a drink and the evening of gorging and conversation and laughs began!!! Another former student of mine and a terrific musician and sax player and his wife work there, Helen being the manager of the restaurant. This place is the one of the finest....if not THE finest......restaurants at the Lake area........and tonight was no exception.

We began with their infamous Onion Rings and Shrimp de Jonghe. This was followed by their wonderful crisp and cold mixed salad.........the best salad anywhere....with NO doubt in my mind. This was accompanied by crusty and very flavorful garlic bread......yummy!!!!

Our dinners then arrived: My sister, David, and myself had the tender and very juicy Peppercorn Encrusted Filets with very large baked potatoes. UMMMMM.....such a wonderful cut of beef and prepared just.......just right! The 1st Lady had Sea Scallops with Sole resting peacefully in a wonderful Lobster Bisque.........incredible!

Well........after we thought and felt like we could eat not another bite, Helen brought the dessert cart to the table and my sister and David each had some little chocolate truffles......and the 1st Lady and I had Snickers Cheese Cake with freshly made whipping cream. This was accompanied by the French Press coffee........a wonderful dark and very aromatic drink that went so well with the desserts. As I said above: OMG.....MORE FOOD!!!!!!!!! We can barely move around now and it has been over an hour since we left the little restaurant. We were thee for almost four hours.......a wonderful evening: great company with great conversation with GREAT food!!! Not to be confused with a fast food joint.......this place is quality and has been quality for years and years........NOT to be missed when at the Lake of the Ozarks!!!!! (Please plan to dig a bit deeper into your pockets than normally......but well worth digging soooo deep!)

It is soooo great to visit with my former student and his beautiful wife there at The Potted Steer.....and they are always sooooo wonderful to see that our appetizers and desserts are compliments of the house(them)!!! THANKS SOOOO MUCH Helen and Dave!!!!!!!

Even though I am almost soooo full that I am miserable.......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!..... And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Summer has returned to Missouri....will it soon return to Misery?

A beautiful day........I had my French Roast coffee as I sat outside and enjoyed watching the Osage flow by TheHowserHouse. Soon the 1st Lady joined me with her tea........made from the artesian well water that is available here at Riverview Campground. She said it tasted sooooo much better.

Our appointment at the title company was for 2:30pm today.....and so after a very leisurely morning, including a 30 minute power walk around the cg oblong circle(is that possible?).....and then we left about 11:30 to have some lunch. WOW..........we have eaten at this French bistro before, but today's lunch was just outstanding!!!!!

We went to "On the Rise"......a breakfast and lunch bistro in the French style. SUCH a wonderful menu and then.......GREAT food!!!!! I ordered the Crispini......a very thin and crispy type of pizza that was cooked in a wood fired open oven: it was covered in a creamy spinach, topped with prosciutto slices, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, and feta cheese!!! WOW......what an incredible lunch....such a great layering of flavors on the thin crust.......soooo good!!!! The 1st Lady had a Lobster Bisque in a pastry lined bowl and it, too, was just wonderful!! My highest recommendations for the "On The Rise" French bistro!!!!!!!!

Then we hit a couple of shops before meeting my sister at the title company and then we joined our realtor in one conference room and the buyers and their realtor met in another conference room. After almost an hour of signing various documents and having them then taken into the buyers room.........we were given our checks for the house, a gift bag of some wonderful "goodies" of sauces and other foodie stuffs from our realtor from 1st Choice Realty in Eldon, MO. She also just happens to have been a student of mine in band when I taught her there in the '80's.

We returned to TheHowserHouse and changed clothes into some more comfortable rags to go see a movie. We watched "The Kingdom".....and yes, it IS action packed. Not as good or intense a movie as I had anticipated from all of the hype that it has been given, but it was enjoyable. A few things bothered me, though........the use of the FBI girl who went to Saudi Arabia, the use of the children in this rather gory and bloody scene.......and, while it is true and has been for centuries and centuries.......the battles that have occurred because of nothing more than people's religion's clashing beliefs! A discussion of this by me would take mucho time and I do not want to get into that at this time.........as we are going to Egypt and Jordan next month for a much anticipated tour.......of which I will be discussing in lots of details and pictures.

SO!!!! We are back and comfy in TheHowserHouse by the River for two more nights and tomorrow. As I said at the beginning of this, summer seems to have returned and tomorrow it is predicted to reach 90 degrees at this end of the first week of October!!! Will it ever end.......will summer ever give up and disappear??????? Hmmmmm............surely, surely........

And so.....a wonderful day with outstanding food for lunch, the sale of my mother's house completed and closed with a check in my pocket, and an entertaining evening at the movies! But...of course......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Riverview CG..........VERY slow WIFI

Quick statement: I can't get my pictures to upload at the very, very slow speed of the wifi here at Riverview CG!!!! Nice to have wifi in TheHowserHouse, however..........it is only good for getting email, reading the papers, etc. Soooo, no pictures from here!!! But.......with the view out the rear window.......

Life IS Great!!!!....And, I hope it is for all of you, also

Thursday, October 04, 2007

AHHHHH.......WIFI in TheHowserHouse!!!!!!!

Oh yeah........we left Roaring River this morning and drove to the Lake of the Ozarks. After being without cell phone service and wifi within TheHowserHouse, it is like being "back in the real world" again. But first......

Yesterday we just played around at doing not much of anything......sounds like a couple of old senior citizens, doesn't it? But.....it was a great day and we enjoyed doing nothing of much importance. We DID have to move as the site we were in since Sunday was reserved for last night and the rest of this week. Sooooo, within an hour after we pulled ourselves out of the bed, we were packed, sides pulled in, and we moved to the opposite side of the cg #2, the same one we were in. Moved to site #110.....and WHAT A WONDERFUL SITE!!!! Soooo much space on the door side of TheHowserHouse and it was like being camped all alone. Listen up, Roaring River campers.....this is a really wonderful site!!!

Then after some French Roast coffee for myself and hot tea for the 1st Lady, we took a bike ride over to cg #3.....and looked around, talked with the campground hosts, and watched the fishermen/women using those fly rods like pros. Then we walked to the end of the cg and where the little low water bridge crosses the "river".....and looked and enjoyed the stream.

Returning to TheHowserHouse we just didn't do much.......went up to the Conference Center to use the wifi so I could post Tuesday's post and the 1st Lady could check her email. Then we grilled some great hamburgers with a new BBQ sauce we had purchased in EurekSprings.........it has pomegranate in it, and WOW......what a great choice we made!!!!! Soooooo damn good.....yum, yum!!!! Then after dark we had a camp fire and sat and enjoyed it for a couple of hours.

And today.........we left around 9:45 this morning after "dumping" all of the tanks in cg #3......a bit better access to the dump station than at cg #1. Got as much of a "run" on the steep hill as I could and still make the 25 mph curve just before going UP the hill for a bit over a 1/2 mile.....probably a 7% grade. Not really a problem.......made it up without any trouble, even though it is impossible to get the rig going at any speed prior to the ascent because of that damn curve which is at the start of the trip upwards.

We made it to the Lake in a bit less than four hours, including two stops along the way. Our site here at Riverview Campground which backs right up to the Osage River, just below the Hwy 54 bridge is terrific!!!! Such a wonderful view out of our large rear window in TheHowserHouse......overlooking the swift flowing Osage. This evening as I was sitting outside enjoying the view, I saw two Eagles, four LARGE Great Blue Herons, and lots of other birds flying around and over the river. Very relaxing......and very comfortable!!

Tomorrow......unless there is a last minute backing out of the buyers, we will close the sale on my mother's home. It sold in a much quicker time than I had anticipated......and my sister and I are both very happy about that!

We will be here until Sunday when we will return to our stick and brick. We will do some shopping either tomorrow or Saturday.......ALWAYS have to go the Outlet Mall!!!! Restraint and discipline are the two key words for a few hours while there!!!!!

And soooooo, with such a terrific view......how can it be anything else but......

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!! .....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Balcony of Hotel where we had THAT lunch!

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Going into downtown Eureka Springs

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Post from Tuesday's activities at Roaring River

TUESDAY…….

OMG…..what a very humid morning….AND day!!! We slept a little longer than planned…..but, what the Hell???? We are retired and have no schedule to follow or obey for the most part.

After breakfast and some good French Roast coffee, we put a few things together to take with us and left for Eureka Springs, Arkansas. By checking the road maps, it was not quite possible to figure the mileage exactly…….so, after going over huge, straight-up hills and then plunging down into some deep valleys, we were in Arkansas…..in about 15 minutes at MOST!!! Then it was only 10 more miles and we were driving up and through the VERY, VERY narrow streets of Eureka Springs. Total mileage from TheHowserHouse???? 20 miles!!!!!

We followed the “Historical Tour” route up and around the hillsides/mountainsides and then slowly wound our way down, almost losing our way on some of the streets that were virtually unmarked. Passing by tons and tons of Bed and Breakfasts and a few large, old stately hotels, a few art galleries that weren’t open, we arrived at the main city center. HAHA….sure as hell wasn’t a “center”, as we continued to loop back and forth down the side of the “mountain” along the most unbelievable narrow streets I’ve seen since being in some of the European countries. We located a pay parking lot, as the free one was WAY away from everything and it didn’t look like the trolleys were running too frequently. It was only $5 for the day…….so,……not a big deal!

WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE????? WHERE ARE THE TOURISTS OR TRAVELERS??? There were hardly any people on the streets…..and the worst part was that many of the shops, galleries, and stores were “Closed on Tuesdays”!!! It was certainly disappointing as even the Art Gallery Shops…..a specific area……were closed for today.

Sooooo, we spent several hours just dropping in some of the ones that we found OPEN….and enjoyed some of the contemporary galleries: modern paintings, very modern sculptures, some wonderful stainless steel and glass vases, a place with some very cool stainless steel contemporary clocks……which we came very close to purchasing one for our stick and brick…..and then we also went into some of the clothing and shoe/sandal shops. We made some HUGE purchases…..hahaha: two pair of cute little socks for gifts, two bottles of sauces, and some herbal meds for allergies(for the 1st Lady and her allergies to animal hair).

By that time we were beginning to feel some hunger pains (our tummies are still a bit stretched out from over-eating last week)….and so, we decided to eat on the second floor outdoor balcony of the Basin Park Hotel. It was the charm and ambience of eating outside and overlooking the old town of Eureka Springs that certainly pulled us in and up to this café. We hesitated after climbing up the stairs of this OLD hotel, but a couple exiting said that the “food was good”. Looking at the menu, we decided to eat just a sandwich……and “best burgers in town”. OK………as I told the 1st Lady, that quote obviously was made by the café owners!! When they arrived, they were definitely frozen burgers, large and fairly thick, but not even warm!!!!!!!!! They had either not been completely thawed when put on the grill, or they had been sitting on the counter to be brought to our tables for toooooooooo long a time!! ANYWAY……you know this aging, sagging hulk of me…….I told the sever that mine was not even warm, never mind being served hot……and the same for the 1st Lady’s. Sooooo, she took them back….and about five minutes later, returned with the same burgers ……we knew because our bites that we had taken were still there……..and….yes, they were hot. But…….ugh!!!! Just not a good juicy burger. They had been frozen toooo long and not thawed properly and were just …..yuk: mushy meat!!! Oh well………consider each day a complete and total loss if you don’t learn something new each day. And, we certainly did today. The charm and ambience was totally lost with the poor quality of the meal……albeit just hamburgers!!!

Anyway…….my advice to you: just bypass the Basin Park Hotel and café that is located upstairs!!! OHHHH…..forgot…..they DID serve hot Starbucks coffee which was very dark and very good!!! THAT did help me ……heehee!!!!

A few more shops and stores…..and we went to the parking lot…..and headed the 20 miles back to TheHowserHouse. We made one stop about five miles out of Eureka Springs at a supermarket to pick up some marshmellows. Sure not going to roast them tonight…….it is raining now(7pm)….and someone just knocked on our door and warned us that there is a severe thunderstorm warning for our area for the next hour with heavy rains. OK…….tomorrow night?????

HAHAHA….I have been hauling about a dozen cut logs/wood around in the back of my truck since we were in NE Missouri at the COE park in late May…..the place I molested that deer with the front end of my truck. We WILL burn those things tomorrow night, come hell or high water!!!

We are keeping our eyes on the tellie……..all TWO channels which we barely pick up down here in this valley. Sooooo much snow and gray matter that I can barely see the warning maps with the counties of expected weather problems in red…….ahhhh, how we do become used to all of the technologies which we have in our homes these days. Just think…….I was in the 6th grade before my father even purchased a HUGE box of a tv with a small screen with a horrible picture coming from 30 miles away!! (I KNOW that we were the very last people in Eldon to have a tv in our homes….hahaha!!!!) Dad said he wouldn’t buy a tv until he could get more than one channel, so he did buy one when there were two channels available…….so to say……it was just luck when we could get both channels to be seen at the same time. AHHHH, the wonders of our present times!!!

And sooooo, enough ramblin’ from this old man for tonight. I will run up to the conference center in the morning and get on their wifi in the lobby and get this posted. Thursday we leave and go to Lake of the Ozarks where we will have wifi and cell phone service!!! CIVILIZATION again!!!!! But……even without the tech wonders……

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!!…..And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!